How to Deal With “Hangry” Customers

Timing is everything when it comes to running a successful restaurant, but when you’re dealing with a dining rush, are short-staffed or are running low on ingredients, there’s a right and wrong way to address “hangry” (hungry and angry) customers. Here a few ways your POS system can help you do just that.


Streamline ordering and fulfillment. Customers usually get hangry because of unexpected delays that occur from the time they enter the restaurant, to the time they receive their meal and finalize checkout. Leverage your point-of-sale system to reduce the inefficiencies that may exist in your processes to streamline the customer experience. For example, digital menus can appropriately reflect feature items and suggested side and drink accompaniments so that customers know exactly what dishes are in stock and available to order. Your POS system can also facilitate the process of accurately transmitting order details from the wait staff to the kitchen to reduce errors regarding special ingredients or preparation requests. Equipping the host and wait staff with mobile point of sale devices also allows customers to check out instantly at tableside when they’re ready to pay (including simplifying the process of splitting checks), so tables turn more quickly, and customers move through their dining experience with as little unnecessary waiting as possible.


Reach them through their stomachs. Giving customers a free item to munch on before their meal arrives can appease hangry customers, and ultimately, act as a benefit to your restaurant’s bottom line. As author and historian Andrew Haley explains in a Freakonomics podcast, offering free bread started more than a century ago, when people ate at taverns. Though the free bread presented a small cost to the tavern owner, it gave hungry patrons sustenance until their dinner was ready for serving — and allowed the restaurant owner to present smaller entree portions of main staples, like meat and seafood. Because the price of the free bread is actually “baked” into the menu price, both customer and owner win.


Listen to the reason for the complaint. Hangry customers may be driven by frustration and hunger, but listening to the details driving their unhappiness is key so you can offer a real solution that makes the customer feel like he or she has been heard and acknowledged. (If a customer is gluten-free and unhappy about lack of appropriate meal options for example, offering free dessert isn’t going to solve the issue and will likely anger the customer further.) Once you resolve the issue, capture the reason for the customer’s dissatisfaction into your POS, to ensure you offer him or her an appropriate bounce-back offer in the weeks that follow to appease any bad feelings that may linger.